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Skagit River Journal

of History & Folklore
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The most in-depth, comprehensive site about the Skagit

Covers from British Columbia to Puget Sound. Counties covered: Skagit, Whatcom, Island, San Juan, Snohomish & BC. An evolving history dedicated to committing random acts of historical kindness
Noel V. Bourasaw, editor (bullet) 810 Central Ave., Sedro-Woolley, Washington, 98284
Home of the Tarheel Stomp (bullet) Mortimer Cook slept here & named the town Bug

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Biographies and obituaries of Skagit county
Pioneers and their descendants: N-P

Continually updated, last time: May 17, 2011
      You will find the type of story in brackets ( ) behind the file link. (Bio) indicates a Journal story link. (Obit) leads to an obituary on this page. If you have suggestions for people you want to read about, please email us and we will add them to the list. Meanwhile, just click on the link and it will take you to the obit for each person, along with our notes, if we have more information, or a link to another page that will tell you more about him or her. Please note that if a woman was the descendant of a pioneer family, her link will be listed under the first letter of both her maiden name and her married name at the time of her death. And please email us if you have family memories or copies of documents or photos you would like us to include. We never ask for your originals.

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We recently visited our newest sponsor, Plumeria Bay, which is based in Birdsview, just a short walk away from the Royal family's famous Stumpranch, and is your source for the finest down comforters, pillows, featherbeds & duvet covers and bed linens. Order directly from their website and learn more about this intriguing local business.

Reno W. "Spike" Odlin, Sedro-Woolley and Louisiana
From his son, Iain Odlin, March 15, 2005
      Reno William Odlin, age 72 -- poet, artist, editor and gourmet -- died of congestive heart failure at Eunice Community Medical Center in Eunice, LA at 2 PM on March 8, 2005, after a three-decade battle with emphysema.
      R.W. — "Spike" to his friends — is survived by his wife of 37 years, Patricia (of Sedro-Woolley, WA); his son Iain and his wife Adrienne (of North Berwick, ME); and his son Robert (of Mt. Vernon, WA). He is also survived by one sibling: His elder brother Neal Heston (of Gig Harbor, WA).
      Spike fervently desired no funeral services and was cremated with no fanfare at his request. His ashes will be scattered later this year at a small family gathering.
      In lieu of flowers or other memorial gestures, the family requests that donations be made to one's local library, gun club or Highland Games in Spike's name.
      Ed. note: Spike Odlin was my friend as well as a tremendous source about Sedro-Woolley, Skagit county and Washington state history. He was also extremely generous when we needed advice or pieces of equipment now and then. I only knew Spike for about 15 years, but during that time I came to know him as one of the most brilliant men I ever met.
      Another of his many friends in this area, Dick McMonagle, also noted the same fact when we discussed Spike this week. When you talked and laughed and broke bread with Spike, you never knew whether he would elucidate on the many gifts that Tarheels brought to Skagit county, the battle of Hastings, Cicero's speeches, how the Vikings changed Paris after their invasion in the ninth century, the Edict of Nantes, or that ole rapscallion Skagit river and its tendency to whip around like a snake after you first feel a Chinook wind.
      Over the past couple of decades, he has traveled back and forth between his home north of Sedro-Woolley near Hoogdal and his home in Louisiana, where he had just as many admiring and loyal friends. He used to enjoy traveling until his lungs gave out on him and his doctor advised against it. One of his legacies will be a showing of his art in Paris in a posthumous show later this spring. It was always a joy for us to help him research an arcane story or tale about Sedro-Woolley. He would then take the kernel of it or a newspaper story, put his own unique twist on it, add an illustration or photo and then amuse the French and other international art collectors. His treatment of a story about an angry local entering the Old Timers with a chainsaw and a chip on his shoulder, and another story about a society matron stumbling on Metcalf street after a celebration both come to mind.
      His ancestry and roots in Sedro-Woolley sink deep even though he was not born here nor did he graduate here. His grandfather William T. Odlin came here from Pennsylvania via California in 1889 and was the clerk for Mortimer Cook at the old general store in the town of Sterling. He later became the cashier and only employee for C.E. Bingham's bank in old Sedro by the river sometime after it opened in July 1890. In 1899, he and his family moved to Anacortes where W.T. became the cashier and major stockholder in the old Citizens Bank. He married Bingham's sister-in-law, the accomplished writer Jessie Reno Odlin. The Renos and Binghams all came from Marengo, Iowa, the cradle of many Sedro pioneers.
      Spike's father, Reno Odlin, had the same first name but Spike was never known as a junior. The elder Reno Odlin was born in the beautiful "Honeymoon Cottage" that was built by Sedro pioneer Junius B. Alexander in 1892 at the northwest corner of Talcott and 5th streets in Sedro-Woolley, and owned by the Odlins from 1895-99 and later owned by the LaPlant family. It has been lovingly restored by the Blodgett family over the past few years. The elder Reno Odlin went on to banking fame in Tacoma and was at one time the president of the national bankers association.
      In Spike's memory, we will post several stories over the next few months. He shared copies of his family file and correspondence over the years. And he was just as cantankerous about correcting the family record as he was about looking askance at world history from Rome to Teddy Roosevelt's Rough Riders and the myth of their horses. He loved to tell the story of how his great-grandfather, Woodbridge Odlin, made up his paid biography from whole cloth in the 1906 Illustrated History book, and came here after his son moved, much to his son's chagrin.
      You can read about Spike's Odlin ancestors in the Journal 4-part section about the Binghams/Renos/Odlins et al, and you can read his grandmother Jessie's famous poem about Sedro and Woolley and its consolidation. All we can say in conclusion is: Spike, you lived large.

Eva Jane (maiden Boyd) (first husband Hoyt) O'Neil, Birdsview and Montborne
Sedro-Woolley Courier-Times, March 25, 1943
      Mrs. Eva Jane O'Neil, 68, mother of Mrs. Carl Allen and Roy Hoyt of this city, died on March 21 after a short illness. She was born in Neligh, Nebraska, Sept. 17, 1874, and had lived in Montborne since 1903, coming to this city about a year ago. Besides Mrs. Allen and Roy Hoyt, she is survived by another son, Guy Hoyt, of Seattle; three grandchildren; one great-grandchild and a number of sister and brothers.
      Funeral sources were on March 23 at the Lemley chapel with the Rev. Arthur Brown, pastor of the Presbyterian church officiating. Burial was in the Union cemetery. Music was by Mrs. Emil Jech and Mrs. Elmer Isvick. The pall bearers were Henry Fellows, Fred Jarvis, Ira Hinkle, George Brees, L.V. Sanders and Gust Gilbertson.

Ed. note: the Boyds and the Skagit
      Eva was the grandmother of our dear friend — and one of the Sedro-Woolley district's finest teachers, Alcina Harwood, who still lives in the Sterling district. She was the fourth child of Lewis Alexander and Clarissa Olive Boyd and was eight when the family paddled up the Skagit river in October 1882 to join the family of Clarissa's sister, Georgetta Savage and her husband, George. Leaving the locusts and prairie life of Nebraska, the family boarded an emigrant railroad train at Omaha and traveled 12 days to San Francisco, arriving there on September 30. The family — five more children by then, cooked meals on a stove along with their furniture at the end of the boxcar. On October 2, they boarded the sidewheel steamer, Dakota, for Seattle, arriving on October 9. The next day they climbed aboard the sternwheeler, Josephine, for the last leg of their journey to Whatcom county.
      After a short trip up the south fork of the Skagit river, Captain W.K. Merwin decided the river was too low so he tied up to the dock at Mann's Landing, the village later called Fir. After staying overnight, they continued upriver to Mount Vernon, where the family stayed at Michael McNamara's Ruby Hotel, just south of Harrison Clothier and Ed English's store, for a few days while L.A. Boyd and his 13-year-old son Archie proceeded upriver to find the Savage homestead near Birdsview. They caught a ride with Adolph Behrens in the canoe he used to transport mail to upriver points, those being Sterling, Lyman and Birdsview, since Sedro was not settled yet. They stayed the first night at Jesse Ball's store in Sterling, enjoying the hospitality of Ball's daughter, Emma Welch. After Behrens stopped at Lyman the next day, the Boyds trudged along in the rain through the dense woods to John Grandy's cabin below Grandy Lake and stayed there the second night. On the morning of the 14th they arrived at Birdsey Minkler's ranch on the north side of the Skagit at Birdsview and crossed the river to George Savage's homestead.
      George and his 15-year-old son Leslie arranged with a few Indians to paddle canoes back down the Skagit to pick up the rest of the Boyd family. Their return trip upriver was slowed considerably by a driving rain. The flotilla stopped the first night at the house of David and Dr. Georgiana Savage, on the north shore halfway between Sterling and future Sedro. They stayed the second night at the home of Henry Cooper Leggett in what would eventually be called Utopia, just below Lyman. Imagine how thrilling the trip must have been for eight-year-old Jane, as the family of nine children and their parents met the settlers along the Skagit and saw thousands of birds they had never seen before, including V-formations of Canadian geese.
      The third day was very slow going and they were only able to travel a mile to Lyman where they stayed with Otto Klement at his trading post-hotel for the night. By the afternoon of the fourth day they reached Alder Creek, east of Hamilton, and the ranch of Jesse and Matilda Cary. They reached the Savage homestead the fifth day and it was a joyous reunion, the first time that sisters Clarissa and Georgetta had seen each other for nine years. L.A. Boyd soon took a preemption claim near the Savages. Boyd had taught school back in Nebraska and he soon taught the children of the Birdsview-area pioneers at a schoolhouse that he built of logs from Birdsey Minkler's mill. For the next ten years the Boyd family moved back and forth from Birdsview to the Nookachamps creek area. Jane and her next-eldest sister, Annie Laurie, married the Hoyt brothers, Sam and Joe, who emigrated from New Brunswick, Canada. See the four-part Boyd story at this website. Meanwhile you can read all about the Boyd, Savage and Royal families at the website of Boyd descendant Dan Royal:

May Palmer, Sedro-Woolley
Sedro-Woolley Courier-Times, Nov. 11, 1956
      Mrs. May Palmer of route 1, Sedro-Woolley, passed away Monday, Nov. 8, after a long illness. She had resided here since 1900. Born May 23, 1888, in Portland, Oregon, she was married to the late Lloyd Palmer Sr. on Dec. 26, 1911, here in Sedro-Woolley.
      She was a member of the First Presbyterian church of Sedro-Woolley and also of the Success Rebekah lodge of this city. Services were held Wednesday, Nov. 11, at 2 p.m., with Rev. V. Carlos Shafer officiating. Interment was in the I.O.O.F. cemetery, Sedro-Woolley.
      Mrs. Palmer is survived by a son, Lloyd Palmer of this city; one daughter, Mrs. Ethel Kinney of Route 1, Sedro-Woolley; one stepbrother, Ronald Chisholm of this city, and six grandchildren.
      Ed. note: Lloyd Palmer Jr. is nearly 90 and lives in Mount Vernon. He was once a garage man for the Ford dealership through owners Emil Jech, Sig Berglund and Vern Sims. We are interviewing him and will post his family's profile this summer.

Julia Elizabeth (maiden Green) Parker, Clear Lake
Sedro-Woolley Courier-Times Dec. 29, 1955
      Mrs. Julia Elizabeth Parker, pioneer resident of Skagit county, died at Memorial Hospital on December 28, as a result of a fall in her Clear Lake home a few days previously, when she injured a shoulder and broke her hip.
      Mrs. Parker (the daughter of George and Mae Green) was the first white child born in Lincoln, Kansas, Oct. 18, 1886, and came to Skagit county in 1892, first to Burlington and later, in 1896, to the family home in Clear Lake she has since resided. She was married to David Parker, March 4, 1884 (in Lincoln); he passed away in 1930.
      Funeral services will be held in St. James' Episcopal church, Sedro-Woolley, at 1:30 p.m. Saturday. Father G.T. Benson will officiate and Rev. W. Forbes of Mount Vernon will be organist. Mrs. Parker was a member of the Episcopal church.
      She is survived by a daughter, Mrs. Josephine Sargent of Edmonds; three sons, George and Frank Parker of Clear Lake and Robert Parker of Sedro-Woolley; a sister, Mrs. Isabel Hammer (wife of Judge Emerson Hammer) of Sedro-Woolley, seven grandchildren, 18 great-grandchildren and one great-great grandchild.
      Ed. note: She was the daughter of one more of the famous Lincoln, Kansas, families who emigrated here. Her mother, Jody (Mae) Dart Green, was a unique frontier woman who equaled the men of her Kansas district in her sharpshooting abilities.

Ruth L. (maiden Broe) Parker, Clear Lake
Sedro-Woolley Courier-Times, June 1996
      Ruth L. Parker, 76, a Clear Lake resident, died on June 9, 1996, at Skagit Valley Hospital following an extended illness and recent surgery. She was born on April 12, 1920, in Arlington, the daughter of Sigrid W. Broe and Ruth Broe Irving.
      Her employment began in 1938 at Northern State and she also worked at the Tacoma shipyards as a procurement officer. She was united in marriage to David B. Parker in Arlington in 1943. They made their home in Clear Lake where they owned and operated the Clear Lake Market for many years.
      "Ruthie" had always had a love of nature. She prided herself on her family and home, enjoyed gardening and reading. She is survived by her loving husband of 52 years, David B. Parker of Clear Lake; a daughter, Susan Valerie Swetman of Mt. Vernon; two sisters, Mildred Tingley of Sedro-Woolley and Wilman Wider of Ferndale; her grandchildren, Andrea and David Thompson and several nieces and nephews.
      Ed. note: Dave Parker is the great-grandson of George Green, who founded Lincoln, Kansas, in 1870 and then moved to Skagit county in 1891. When here, he backed several businesses for his sons-in-law, David Parker and Emerson Hammer and others in the county. David settled south of Clear Lake, where his uncle, John Henry Dart, homesteaded back in 1878. His son George, was the father of Ruth's husband, David Parker, who is retired and living on the east shore of Clear Lake in 2003.

Paul Pawlaski, Sedro-Woolley
Sedro-Woolley Courier-Times, June 14, 1956
      Paul Pawlaski, 61, son of the late Paul and Agnes Pawlaski, pioneer Sedro-Woolley residents, passed away at his home on Route 2 on June 7. He had been in ill health for several years.
      Born Jan 18, 1895, in Minneapolis, Minn., Mr. Pawlaski had been a resident of Sedro-Woolley for over 50 years. He was a veteran of World War I and a member of both the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion posts in Sedro-Woolley. In his early years he was associated with his father in operating a meat market here and since that time had continued to retain his membership in Meat Cutters Local No. 247.
      Mr. Pawlaski served as deputy sheriff of Skagit county and was with the Washington State Patrol from 1925 to 1931. He also served as Chief of Police for the city of Burlington from 1937 to 1941. During World War II he was Inspector of Police at the Bremerton Navy Yard and Security Officer for the U.S. Naval Hospital in Seattle.
      Requiem High Mass was sung June 11 in the Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church, of which he was a member. Father Andrew F. Donohoe officiated and interment was in the Sedro-Woolley cemetery with the American Legion in charge of graveside services. Mr. Pawlaski is survived by his wife, Grace; a daughter, Mrs. Lois Jarrett of Seattle; a sister, Mrs. Helene Myers of Winslow, Bainbridge island, and three grandchildren.

Gustav Pidde, Sedro and Mount Vernon
Skagit County Times, May 2, 1896
Born March 19, 1849, died April 24, 1896, aged 47
      The subject of this sketch was born in Rogasen, Province Posen, Prussia, where his relatives now reside. He entered the army at an early age, where he saw much active service. He served all through the Franco-German war, taking part in all the principal battles. About 13 years ago, Mr. Pidde came to Skagit county where he was engaged in logging. During the boom at Sedro he entered into business in that city, afterwards disposing of his interest, he came to Mount Vernon, where he has ever since resided.
      Mr. Pidde joined the Odd Fellows (IOOF) during the early days of the organization of Lodge No. 27. From that time Odd Fellowship became his religion, and in the fullest sense of the word, he exemplified the teachings of the ritual of that order. His was a broad life, not founded on the narrow principles of selfishness. Always caring for the welfare of others, never thinking of self, he all his life adhered strictly to the teaching of (blurred).
      He was one of the few men that a person meets who never had an enemy, the secret for which, lying in the fact that he was never herd to speak ill of a person in his life. To the friends who were intimately acquainted with the noble nature with which the deceased was endowed, the sorrow at the parting of death was most keen.
      Strong men, who had never been known to shed a tear, broke down and cried. He had been a faithful friend of the lodge with which he affiliated, carefully guarding its interests, and furnishing financial aid at a time in which the organization was in need. To him alone as trustee the Rebekah lodge is indebted for the present arrangement by which they are enabled to entertain their friends. Though not a member of that lodge, he watched its interests just as faithfully as those of the subordinate. How few in his position, with the power at his command would have exercised the same generous spirit.
      The funeral services were held from the Odd Fellows hall, Sunday (April 27) at 1 p.m., under the auspices of the members of that order, assisted by the Knights of Pythias, in which organization be held the highest rank possible to attain, that of a Past Chancellor. It was by far the largest gathering of Odd Fellows, to attend the funeral of a deceased brother, ever witnessed in the city, and was a fitting tribute to a noble Odd Fellow. The funeral oration was pronounced by Rev. W.F. Ford of Seattle and was the grandest effort of the kind ever heard by many in the audience.

      Ed. note: From our research at the Northwest Washington Regional Archives in Bellingham, we know that Pidde and a Mr. M. Hurley opened the second saloon in the Sedro precinct on Dec. 1, 1889. They renewed their license on Nov. 29, 1890. You can read about the saloons of Skagit county at these websites: Early saloons in Skagit County

Harry Wesley Pitman, Sedro-Woolley
Sedro-Woolley Courier-Times, Sept. 14, 1939
      Harry Wesley Pitman, pioneer resident of this city, died in Seattle on Tuesday following a long illness. He was 64 years of age. Funeral services will be held in the Lemley chapel on September 15 and burial will be in the Union cemetery.
      Mr. Pitman was born at Morley, Michigan in 1875 and came to Sedro-Woolley at the age of 13 years. He made his home here until just recently, being engaged in mill work. Surviving Mr. Pitman are three sons, Charley, Roy and Arthur; five daughters, Mrs. Etta Nicoll, Bellingham, Mrs. Gertrude Moffet, Sedro-Woolley; Mrs. Esther Pennington, Bellingham, and Florence and Shirley Pitman of Seattle.

Frank Pressentin, Birdsview and Marblemount.
Sedro-Woolley Courier-Times, Nov. 27, 1952
      Frank Pressentin, Skagit county pioneer and son of one of the county's earliest settlers, died Nov. 21 in a Bellingham hospital at the age of 73. He was born in Birdsview, Feb. 13, 1879, and had spent almost his entire life in Skagit county. His parents were among the first to homestead in the Skagit river. He was married to Mabel Martin, daughter of a neighboring pioneer family, on June 17, 1903, and moved to Marblemount where he and his wife operated the Pioneer hotel for 15 years. Later he turned to mercantile trading for 28 years and up until his death he served as assistant postmaster at Marblemount.
      In addition to serving as assistant postmaster at Marblemount for so many years, Mr. Pressentin ws very proud of having served for the past 40 years on the election board, and the past several years as the clerk of that board. He was recently re-elected Republican precinct committeeman, another position which he had held for many years.
      Funeral services were held Wednesday in the chapel of the Lemley mortuary, with Rev. Frank Ericksen of Burlington officiating. Soloist was Mrs. Lloyd (May) Palmer of this city, accompanied at the piano by Miss Esther Ericson of Bellingham.
      Pallbearers were Gasper Peta, Herst Riggs and Richard W. Buller Jr. of Marblemount; William Pressentin of Rockport; Thomas Thompson of Washtucna, Wash. and Thomas Ryan of Bellingham. Interment was in the Sedro-Woolley cemetery.
      Surviving are his wife, Mabel; two daughters, Mrs. Ruth Warnock of Hartford, Calif., and Mrs. Edith Wagner of Los Angeles; three sons, Bernard of Bellingham, Wallen of Darrington and Major Vernon Prevention who arrived home from military duty in Europe over the weekend to attend the services. Also one granddaughter, Susan, daughter of Major Pressentin, and three brothers, Paul of Mount Vernon and Otto and Charles Pressentin of Sedro-Woolley. All of the family were here for the funeral.

Hans von Pressentin, Birdsview and Burlington
Sedro-Woolley Courier-Times, June 5. 1952
      Hans von Pressentin, a resident of route 1, Burlington, passed away June 2. He was born at Birdsview, July 13, 1881, and had lived there all his life. Funeral services will be held June 7 in the chapel of the Lemley Mortuary. Rev. Arthur Holst will officiate and cremation in Bellingham will follow. Surviving are his wife, Dorothy, four brothers, Charles and Otto of Sedro-Woolley, Frank of Marblemount and Paul of Mount Vernon.
      Ed. note: Hans was the son of Karl (Charles) von Pressentin, who was one of the half dozen of permanent upper Skagit river settlers in the pivotal year of 1878.

Return to this main page for a full list of profiles and obituaries on file. And please consider adding to our list if you have articles or scans. We especially want copies of very old newspapers, and those from the Pioneer Picnic week (first Thursday of each August) issues of the Puget Sound Mail of LaConner are worth their weight in gold.

Links, background reading and sources
  • Return to this main page for a full list of profiles and obituaries on file. And please consider adding to our list if you have articles or scans. We especially want copies of very old newspapers, and those from the Pioneer Picnic week (first Thursday of each August) issues of the Puget Sound Mail of LaConner are worth their weight in gold.

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